Saturday, March 27, 2010

A great day for owls

When I went out to Kensington this afternoon, owls were about the last thing on my mind. I was hoping to find some good waterfowl like a Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, or Horned Grebe. Waterfowl numbers were down significantly, however, and all of the ducks that were there were quite far out. I then headed over to Spring Hill hoping to find some Eastern Meadowlarks. I heard a few and saw one at the edge of the back field. While I was back there I also looked for the Great Horned Owl nest that Mike Mencotti found about two weeks ago. After a bit of searching I found the nest and saw one of the owls sitting on it. This was the first owl I had seen at Kensington but it was not to be the last.

I then headed over to the nature center to see what had been reported lately. As soon as I walked in Bob Hotaling said, "You're here to see the Barred Owl, right? Mike Mencotti found one on the Deer Run trail this morning" I was very surprised as I never had hear of a Barred Owl at Kensington before, although it was on the park checklist. After getting a few more directions from Bob I headed out down the trail. After a while I saw a group of three or four people with large cameras and sure enough, they were looking at the Barred Owl. I took me a while to see it at first because it was very well camouflaged.

After a minute or so, however, some people walking down the trail from the other direction accidentally spooked the owl. Fortunately it did not fly far and I was able to get an unobstructed picture.

It was cool to see a Barred Owl in the day although hearing them at night is really awesome as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Tree Swallows are Back!

I saw my first Tree Swallows of the year yesterday at the American Center Marsh. There were about five circling over the pond and checking out the nest boxes. Swallows are some of my favorite birds and I am always excited to see them come back in the spring. A Black-capped Chickadee was also checking out the nest box in my yard, hopefully they will nest in it again like last year. I have not had much time to bird lately because I was visiting Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia with my mom last weekend. Front Royal is in the Blue Ridge mountains in northwest Virginia about an hour west of Washington. I never really spent any time specifically birding but I did see several birds that I haven't seen in Michigan like Fish Crow, Northern Mockingbird, Black Vulture, and Carolina Chickadee (lifer #302). I also found some birds that I haven't seen in Michigan yet this year like Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Phoebe, Field Sparrow and Double-crested Cormorant. It was a great trip and I really liked the college. Believe it or not, there was still some snow in the mountains in Pennsylvania and even in a few spots in Virginia, it really took me by surprise since the snow has been gone for several weeks now in Michigan.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Kensington Birds

I went out to Kensington again this afternoon to try to see the Greater-white Fronted Goose reported on Tuesday by Lyle Hamilton. I did not find that goose but I did find two Snow Geese (1 blue and 1 white morph) and two Cackling Geese which were lifers #300 and 301 respectively. Waterfowl variety was very good again with lots of Ring-necked Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Canvasbacks, Redheads, and Common Mergansers, and smaller numbers of American Coots, American Wigeon, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, and American Black Ducks. I also had two male Green-winged Teal and two Ruddy Ducks. All of the ducks were in the area between the Possum Hollow picnic area and Maple beach. I was able to manage a bad photo that shows both the Snow and Cackling Geese. The Snow Geese are on the left and the Cacklings are the ones sitting on the ice near the left right side. They had their heads under their wings most of the time but would poke them out every now and then revealing very steep foreheads and stubby bills. They were also much smaller than the Canada Geese.
I was also able to get an okay shot of some of the American Wigeons as well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


It looks like spring is finally here! I went out to Kensington Metropark and found some good birds this afternoon. The best were a pair of Tundra Swans which were county lifers for me. Duck variety was very good, I had American Black Duck, Gadwall, Bufflehead, Redhead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, and Common Merganser. I missed the Sandhill Cranes that were seen yesterday but there were four Great Blue Herons on their nests on Wildwing Lake. It was a great day to be out birding. Fifty degrees in March is perfect.

Owl Prowl & More

I went on the DAS owl prowl last night at Indian Springs Metropark. It was a beautiful night for early March and it was amazing how many more stars you can see up there than at my house. We heard a pair of Great Horned Owls calling and Coyotes howling in the distance. Surprisingly we did not see or hear Eastern Screech or Barred Owls. I was especially surprised we didn't see Barred Owls as a pair of them followed our group for most of the time when I went on an owl prowl there in September. I have been pretty busy lately so I haven't been able to update this blog but I have been able to fit some birding in. On Friday I went to Heritage Park and took some pictures of this hawk.

I think that it is probably a Goshawk but don't feel comfortable ruling out a Cooper's. I posted a link to my photos on the umich birders group and Allen Chartier brought up the possibility that it might also be a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk. Based on the flight style of the bird, however, I don't think this is likely as the hawk had a strong and direct flight like an accipiter.

My mom and I were in Cleveland last week and we were able to check out a few spots along Lake Erie. I found good assortments of birds at the Eastlake power plant and East 72nd Street fishing area in Cleveland. I had Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneyes, Lesser Scaup, and Great Black backed Gulls at both locations. I had an American Coot at the Eastlake power plant and I had Redheads, Greater Scaup and a Canvasback at E 72nd. I also found a Mourning dove nest at my hotel and also saw a Red-headed Woodpecker there. On the way back home we stopped at the Lotus Rd. pond where we had several Lesser Black-backed Gulls.